The pulsing cities of Southeast Asia, thrumming with motorbikes and scented with spicy street food. The vast plains of the Masai Mara, where wildebeest roam in herds of millions. The sacred, snowy peaks of New Zealand volcanoes, the quiet grace of Kyoto’s geisha district… What do you want to experience in 2023? The world is a big, wide-open place and it can be hard to decide. Here are ten destinations that are calling out to us for trips next year. You might go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, take a river cruise on the Nile or the Mekong, or swim with marine iguanas in the Galapagos.
Welcoming visitors again
Delicate plum blossoms dancing in the breeze, the whoosh of a bullet train leaving the station, the smoky scent of yakitori on an open fire, and the steamy heat of an onsen… We’ve missed everything about Japan for more than two years and were excited to be one of the earliest visitors, before most people were allowed in.
We were there to check what the country would be like after reopening, and we’re happy to report back that it’s even better than we remember. While you’re visiting, you might step into traditional culture in Kyoto with a kimono-wearing class and a visit to the geisha district, or revel in the neon-soaked streets of Tokyo on a street-food tour.
Get me there: This classic route across Japan takes advantage of Japan’s remarkable rail network and includes time in Tokyo and Kyoto, as well Hakone National Park, to soak in the hot springs.
Modernism, tapas & more
Spain’s own Pablo Picasso is considered by many to be the father of modern art, while his contemporary Antoni Gaudí helped to pioneer the modernism movement within architecture. Together, their works helped to define much of Spanish culture in the 20th century. Celebrate the great painter on the 50th anniversary of his death with a trip to Barcelona, visiting both the Picasso Museum and Gaudí’s masterpieces, including the Sagrada Familia.
If you prefer your art on a plate, Spain is also a hotbed of culinary invention, from elegant eateries serving cutting-edge molecular gastronomies to traditional tapas bars, where you can nibble on classic small dishes like patatas bravas. In the countryside, you’ll find sun-gilded vineyards creating storied wines in la Rioja and Penedès.
Get me there: Uncover the best of Barcelona and Madrid, including Picasso’s works, on this whirlwind tour through the two cities.
Recovered, reopened, reborn
Just emerging from a two-year shutdown, Australia seems entirely refreshed. The devastating wildfires of 2019 are a distant memory and there’s a sense of renewed energy across the country. That's especially true of hotels — many have been refurbished over the past two years and many others have just opened up.
Our specialists can help you narrow down where to go, depending on what you’re interested in doing and seeing. If you’d like to encounter Australia’s singular wildlife, we’ll arrange a safari on Kangaroo Island or snorkeling amid the teeming sea life of the Great Barrier Reef. For food and wine, we’ll send you to the vineyards of the Yarra Valley or the trendy eateries of Sydney. Gain insights into Aboriginal cultures in Kakadu National Park, or hike through the rainforest of the Blue Mountains.
Get me there: An eco-friendly exploration of Australia’s coast, Outback, and Great Barrier Reef, this tour offers a comprehensive look at the continent’s varied landscapes.
4. South Africa
Big Five safaris, wine tasting & whale watching
Few countries pack as much into their borders as South Africa, making it one of our best-loved destinations. Thanks to the venerable Kruger National Park and the private reserves that border it, it’s well-known as a safari destination, but you can also see the Big Five elsewhere, including the Madikwe Game Reserve.
There’s so much more to South Africa, too — you can indulge in history and culture in cool, cosmopolitan Cape Town. (In 2023, nearby Robben Island will mark ten years since the death of its most famous prisoner, President Nelson Mandela.) On a driving tour of the Winelands, you can sip local vintages while admiring the landscape of expansive vineyards against a backdrop of mountains. And, along the windswept Garden Route, you can soak up the coastal views and keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales.
Get me there: Journey by rail as part of a trip that takes you from Kruger to Cape Town, including a guided tour of Robben Island and a visit to the Winelands.
5. Sri Lanka
Relaxation, jungles, safari & beaches
Beaches covered in rose-gold sand, serene walks among leafy tea estates, great temple complexes, birdwatching, and elephants… Sri Lanka is beguiling in its variety. The compact nature of the island also allows you to pack a lot into one trip. Additionally, after a challenging 2022, the island is eager to greet new visitors and we work hard to be sure that all our visits here are responsible, thoughtful, and help to burgeon the nation.
If you’re interested in safari, you might visit the green jungles of Yala National Park to spot elusive leopards, as well as hummingbirds, crocodiles, and elephants. For sea life, consider a whale-watching cruise off Galle. And, for the best views, you can climb Sigiriya Rock or stay at a luxe cottage nestled among the tea estates in the misty green highlands.
Get me there: See the best parts of the island nation on this highlights tour.
Sun-baked pyramids, a Nile cruise & ancient temples
Reeds swaying gently in the breeze, cattle drinking at the muddy bank, the enigmatic Sphinx and its unblinking stare, and, of course, the stately statue of Ramses II keeping stern watch from the shore… Since the pharaohs, a cruise down the Nile has been the best way to soak up the sights of Egypt.
It was exactly 100 years ago, in 1923, that Howard Carter opened the door to Tutankhamun’s burial chamber and the golden treasures within sparked a wildfire of Egyptomania across the world. If your own Egyptomania has taken hold — perhaps you watched Death on the Nile recently? — 2023 is a great year to finally visit. We have a variety of ships, from traditional wind-driven dahabiya to thoroughly modern options that will let you watch the scenery scroll by in luxury fit for a pharaoh.
Get me there: You can see highlights like the Great Pyramid and the Valley of the Kings, but also lesser-visited sights like Philae Temple, on this comprehensive visit that also includes a Nile cruise.
7. Southeast Asia
Vibrant cuisine, storied temples & mighty rivers
Audley’s very first trips were to Vietnam more than 25 years ago, and Southeast Asia remains a special place to us. The region has almost completely reopened and our specialists took full advantage as soon as they could, sleeping in opulent new stays in Vietnam and Thailand, riding the high-speed train through Laos, visiting the soft-sand beaches, and renewing our long-running love affair with the many rivers that run through the region.
Inter-country flights are in full swing and now is a great time to plan a multi-country trip. Explore jungle-choked ruins, watch saffron-robed monks in meditation, and learn to make dishes like spicy green papaya salad, a common street food in Laos.
Get me there: Visit both Vietnam and Cambodia on this multi-country tour that includes time on the Mekong Delta on a traditional sampan.
8. New Zealand
Epic landscapes, vineyards & Māori culture
Towering stratovolcanoes with snow-kissed peaks, jagged mountains reflected in mirror-smooth water, vast beaches that seem to never end, bubbling mudpots, caves lit by glow worms… New Zealand’s natural beauty has inspired myths from ancient Māori beliefs to modern day cinematographers on the new Tolkien TV series, Rings of Power.
We can help you explore these mythic landscapes on guided tours intended to help you connect with the natural world — kayak along Queen Charlotte Sound, walk among the seals on Tonga Bay, swim with dolphins, or take a cruise to the many corners of the country that you can’t reach on land. We’ll also help you explore Māori culture — visit spiritual sights in Auckland or the Waipoua Forest. And, of course, you can sample the renowned wines that are produced here on tours of Blenheim or Hawke’s Bay’s vineyards.
Get me there: This highlights tour includes a chance to sample wines, journey by train, and visit Milford Sound.
The Great Migration & beach relaxation
In Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, great herds of wildebeest move across the plains in a cloud of sunlit dust, shying from prowling lion prides. Lanky giraffe nibble on acacia trees whose branches might hold vultures or leopard. In the great Mara River, hippo yawn and crocodiles lurk, waiting to ambush an unwary antelope.
Kenya is the classic safari destination for good reason — a visit here gives you the chance to see the drama of the Great Migration, which includes a healthy population of plains animals and their big-cat predators. You can also meet the local Maasai to learn more about their history and culture in this wild and ancient land.
What’s more, a new train line has just opened linking Nairobi to Tsavo National Park, giving you easy, good-value access to a safari, as well as to the southern beaches, where you can unwind on white-sand shores after your many game drives.
Get me there: Indulge in a luxury safari, followed by a few days lounging on soft-sand beaches, on this trip to Kenya.
10. The Galapagos Islands
Supporting rare, fearless wildlife
Comic red-footed boobies, sinuous marine iguanas, and Darwin’s famous finches — the wildlife of the Galapagos archipelago is as rare as it is fearless. Travel here is carefully restricted, to protect the fragile ecosystems and maintain this special natural space. Additionally, we only work with small ships to ensure your visit will have the smallest possible footprint. This means there are a limited number of berths, so it’s important to book well ahead if you want to visit.
Your advance planning will be rewarded with a chance to get up close and personal with the locals. You’ll see lumbering tortoises older than any human, waved albatrosses who look graceful in the air and clumsy on the ground, and sleek sea lions basking in the sun. You might go snorkeling, take a guided tour with a bird expert, or hike along the caldera of Cerro Negro Volcano.
Get me there: Hop from island to island onboard the Yolita II with this Galapagos cruise.